In a sermon given in Poland last Friday, Bishop Bernard Fellay commented on the situation between the SSPX and Rome and recent rumors.
Rome: A City of Rumor
Bishop Fellay addressed the rumor that the SSPX is purchasing property in Rome in order to relocate from its headquarters in Menzingen. This is fake news, as we earlier reported:
There have been plans for a purchase in Rome, there are some now and there will be others, as long as a firm acquisition has not been finalized. On the other hand, to respond to the ‘revelations’ in the press, there is no plan to purchase a building complex at Santa Maria Immacolata all’Esquilino, as Matteo Matzuzzi writes.”
Bishop Fellay confirmed that the SSPX intends to buy a church in Rome, but the sale of the building the SSPX is interested in, belonging to a Community of Sisters, depends on the Congregation for the Religious.
A Personal Prelature
Bishop Fellay then commented on a project of Personal Prelature which had been offered to the SSPX in the summer of 2015. As he already said on January 26, 2016, such a canonical structure fits the needs and the actual apostolate and presence of the Society all over the world. He revealed that the written proposal given to the SSPX foresees that prelate should be a bishop. How would the prelate be designated? The Pope would choose amongst the three names presented by the SSPX through its own elections. It is also foreseen, said Bishop Fellay, that other auxiliary bishops would be given to the Society.
Everything that exists now will be recognized all over the world. And the faithful also! They will be in this Prelature with the right to receive the sacraments and teachings from the Society’s priests. It will be also possible to receive religious congregations, as it is in a diocese: Capuchins, Benedictines, Carmelites, and others. This prelature is a Catholic structure which is not under the [authority of the local] bishops. It is autonomous.”
Doctrinal Steps Needed
For Bishop Fellay, however, there is a development even more important and interesting than this project of canonical structure: a change happening inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The SSPX could maintain its objections to religious liberty, ecumenism, and the New Mass. These outgrowths from the Council are not considered as binding anymore or as conditions to be recognized as Catholic.
Bishop Fellay alludes here to the declarations of Archbishop Pozzo about the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council which is not anymore—according to Pozzo—required to be Catholic. The same has been repeated by those bishops (See: Cardinal Brandmüller and Bishop Schneider’s visits) who visited the SSPX seminaries in 2015 according to the plan agreed on in the 2014 meeting with the Cardinal Muller.
According to Bishop Fellay, “in the discussions we had with the bishops sent by Rome, they have told us ‘these questions are open questions.’”
Chaos and Reaction
Why did Rome change? Bishop Fellay offered his opinion that it is due to the gravity of the situation in the Church; the real chaos that is now running loose within her. Bishop Fellay illustrated it by reporting the comments of Cardinal Muller asking the SSPX to join his fight against the modernists. Meanwhile, the Congregation for the Religious still considers the SSPX as schismatic and yet Pope Francis says that the SSPX is Catholic.
There is much contradiction, there is a battle between the bishops, among the cardinals, this is a new situation...Rome is no longer one, it is divided. And in such a way that some see that things have gone too far. And they say ‘you have to do something, you have to resist.’”
Bishop Fellay mentions also the support and letters he received from Bishops. He had made the same comments to Dici earlier this year.
As for the other bishops, “there are others who speak, who resist, we are not alone.” According to Bishop Fellay “a whole work of renewal of the Church [that] has begun.”
At the same time, Bishop Fellay is not blind:
It does not mean that we go forward, we must go with great prudence and also secure our future to be able to prevent any possibility of trap. Therefore we are not running in this situation.”
Pope Francis and the SSPX
Of course Bishop Fellay mentions also the paradoxical interest Pope Francis has for the SSPX.
A pope who does not care for doctrine, who looks at the people, and who has known us in Argentina. And he appreciated our work in Argentina. And that's why he sees us with a good disposition while in the same time he is against conservatism. This is like a contradiction. But I have been able to verify several times that he really does things personally for us.”
Concluding, Bp. Fellay says he does not know if or when a recognition of the Society will happen:
So whether or not we are going to get an upcoming recognition, I do not know, I do not think so, but the pope can make a surprise. It seems impossible, as he already did it several times. Then we must continue to pray much, to ask our Protectress, the Blessed Virgin Mary to continue to lead us.”